Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just Good People!

The past eleven days of my life have been very sad, very upsetting and thus, to whatever entity is in charge of handling my day-to-day experiences, please do not deliver any reruns of this time in my life. You see, I've been to three funerals in the last eleven days. Two were expected but that still doesn't lessen the loss factor any, does it? First, there was a cousin of mine who had dealt with COPD (or maybe it was emphysema, I'm not sure which exactly, just know it was a very bad lung issue)for the past fifteen years with the last 18 months of having hospice care present. The third was for a lady who, along with her husband and family, had been good friends for well over thirty years. She had just this past spring been diagnosed with cancer that I was told began in her lungs but unfortunately, rapidly moved to other organs in her body. She and her husband had both been the kind of people who saw all things in the most positive manner possible and with as much humor as could be mustered up too. Their children -all five -grew up to be outstanding individuals and well, "just plain great kids." Their oldest son has a place of honor in my older daughter's mind though as she has said for many years now that he was the very best babysitter ever to stay with her and her brother when they were younguns! And, yes I think I'd have to agree with her description of him in that manner because he was a very good sitter, great at entertaining both my daughter and my son back then. My memory is a bit faulty right now as I can't remember exactly how many of those kids babysat for me -I know the oldest boy did, as well as the oldest girl but not sure if either of the two younger girls ever babysat for me. I know the youngest of the family -a son -didn't because he wasn't all that much older than my son was back then. And the other funeral -which actually was the second one in this line -was one for the oldest son of one of my neighbors here in town and his passing was a total shock to everyone! Only 48-years-old and his mother found him in his house, in bed and dead of a heart attack. Totally shocked the entire community and I find myself still in a bit of a state of shock over his passing. He was a year older than my older daughter -the eldest of five siblings. A very hard worker he was too having started early in life -probably by the beginning of his teens, maybe a little before that even, as the local paperboy, delivering the local daily newspaper as well as weekly copies of the GRIT. During his high school years, he started spending much of his free time during the warmer months mowing lawns for various people around here. After graduation, he got a job working at a local service station just off Interstate 80 here and worked there until not too many years ago -less than 10 years though I think since he left that job and got hired on the Janitorial staff at our local school system. All the while he worked full time he also built up his network of people whose lawns were mowed by him as well as maintaining the grass at the local Catholic Cemetery (which is fairly large) and also, a cemetery by a church about 5-6 miles from here that was a little bit, but not that much, smaller. If you were to talk to anyone who belongs to either of those churches though, you'd hear nothing but compliments on the work he performed in both places. Some other things you'd most likely hear about any of these three individuals would be that each of them would be considered to have been "just good people!" Most certainly that I agree with wholeheartedly. My cousin, the lady friend and the younger man -all three of them were alike too in that whenever you saw any of them, they always had a smile for you and good words to share. All three of them would do anything they could for you if they knew you had a need for help of some kind. Generous, giving people they were. The younger fellow had been a member of our volunteer Fire Company since he was old enough to join so over 30 years of service and commitment he gave to the Fire Company and the community. He also had a very strong sense of humor much of the time too and that was totally evident the Sunday back in May of 1994 when my daughters and their boyfriends had the great idea to tear down the old garage in the backyard here. Their game plan was to tear it apart and then, using the wheel barrow they wheeled the wood across the backyard to the back lot adjacent to this one and then, they were burning the old wood, bit by bit. Sounded like a decent enough plan to them and to me. But a little backstory is needed here now as I have to explain that 3 years earlier my son had managed to catch our house on fire and as a result, the second story interior was very damaged but thankfully, it didn't reach into the attic nor was the roof damaged at all either. But on the day of the demolishing of the garage, there came a point in which the only part of the garage still standing was a section that was completely locked together, creating a block of timber that would have taken another full day to rip apart so I told the kids to just pull that down into the lower part of our back yard, which was at that time a virtual swampland, and burn it there. That then is what they did and it seemed to be going okay until the wind picked up a bit of speed, sending sparks flying into the air like crazy and it looked like they were all heading for the branches of some very large oak trees down there. Enough so that it scared my daughter and she came running up to the house yelling for me to call the fire company. Okay -I called the fire company and we were standing in the backyard when the guys came trouping down to greet us with this young man leading the pack. As he came up to me he came out with this comment to me, "So, Mrs. Ertmer, you are now a frequent flyer with the Grassflat Fire Company!" And he frequently would tease me too about that fire at my place. Considering that and how he did love to tease and joke with people whenever possible, you can now also understand why, when my little old jeep caught fire while I was driving it about 28 months ago and the fire company had to be called out for that too. My biggest worry while waiting for them to arrive on the scene was that he not be responding to the call because I knew, if he was on the truck, I would never live down the harassment he would dole out to me! Thankfully, he wasn't on the truck though and I said to one of the firemen present I was so glad to see he wasn't there. That guy asked me why I didn't want him to be on the call and if I didn't like the guy and I replied that it wasn't that at all but just that he would have had a field day poking fun at me over the whole scene. All in good humor I know it would have been but in a small town like this, well, you can understand I really didn't need any fodder to give him for sure! But my kids and I as well as this young man and his youngest brother, who is one of my son's closest friends, still have had a lot of laughs shared over both of those fires! And as a tribute to each of these three individuals, the churches from which each funeral was held were each packed for the respective funeral service. To me, seeing that many people show up to pay their respects for the deceased and to the family members speaks legions of what type of person each one was! "Just Good People!" Yes, indeed, that is exactly what each one was and they will most certainly be missed not just by their families but by the entire area here. Rest in peace, Jackie, Ricky and Donna! You will not be forgotten for your works over the years you shared yourself and your talents within this community.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Push Is On!

Well, a year has passed now since Mandy and the kids moved to Middletown and needless to say, it was a year of some very rude adjustments to my life! To say that I missed the kids -a major understatement there, for sure!

 For a while, I really felt totally lost without them being here every day. I didn't miss the daily fights that tended to erupt between the two of them for the most part, but yet -sometimes it was so quiet here, I probably would have welcomed that just for the company it meant was present in the house then.

 But I really was very much looking forward to the summer months and being able to have the kids here -either one at a time or even both of 'em together for a couple of weeks in a row. Things worked out -not quite the way we had initially figured but as best that could be done anyway.

In June, originally the plan was that I was to have both kids here together for two weeks but that got switched to only having them here together for one week and having Kurtis for alone for what was supposed to be the second week for both of them.

That got changed because Maya had to go home to be there over one weekend so she could attend a dance recital for Mandy's boyfriend's daughter, Cassidy. So, my older daughter took her to Middletown and brought her back up here and then, Mandy came up that weekend to take her home as she had to get ready to go to Bible Camp at some camp up in the Poconos some where. She and Cassidy were going to go to that together and would be there a full week!

 So Kurtis then was going to spend yet another week alone here with me but that got scotched when it turned out he to go home earlier than planned because he had to have an evaluation with the BSC in order to have all the paperwork completed so he could attend some special 5-week long program from the end of June through the end of July! I tried to convince Mandy to tell the BSC if he wanted to evaluate Kurt to come up here and do it and look at the big payoff he would get collecting on travel expenses for that but she decided that idea just wouldn't wash so back home Kurt went.

Then, I did get Maya for two weeks -last week and this week and this Sunday when they go home with their Mom, they will be back for one week -the first full week in August -but at least that means they will both be able to go to Bible School at our church here then anyway!

 One thing I don't miss though with the kids is how in school there usually comes a time when the music department does special tests on the kids to ascertain if any of them have any amount of musical talent laying dormant, waiting for the music department to convince the parents to invest in some kind of musical instrument and start the kid on the road to ensuring parents and grandparent do have a very good set of headphone to ward of ear damage from listening to the initial phases of learning to play an instrument. When my kids were in school and those days came along, it seemed every announcement they brought home as to purchasing an instrument of some type or other all came with a banner headline too announcing buy now

Almost as if one didn't purchase then, the instruments would never ever be available to anyone, ever again!

Unfortunately for my three kids, there was no way at all I could squeeze in another payment for anything much less a musical instrument though so I never took advantage of those sales. But it reminded me of when I was a kid and those tests were given then, I was deemed to have some degree of musical ability but fortunately for me, we already had a piano and an uncle of mine had an old violin he loaned me too. When about two years later the music teacher (and band director) insisted I learn how to play a French Horn so I could then qualify to be in the marching band) he, the teacher, found an old used -very used, I might add -French Horn for me to use to learn on! I'll save the story of what a debacle it was when he insisted I was ready to move on to the marching band for another day! LOL 

 So any way, Mandy's been getting some of these banners and bribes and such to purchase musical instruments for one, if not both kids, but she's in the same bind that I was, financially, plus we've already seen that Maya's interests in playing an instrument has taken an extreme backseat to her getting Mandy to allow her to take dance lessons!

At least that, she likes well enough that she practices -day in and day out! So that wasn't a wasted investment then after all, was it?